Capitol Visitor Center:

Effective Schedule Management and Updated Cost Information Are Needed

GAO-05-811T: Published: Jun 14, 2005. Publicly Released: Jun 14, 2005.

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This testimony discusses the Architect of the Capitol's (AOC) progress in achieving selected project milestones and in managing the project's schedule since Congress's May 17 hearing on the project. We will also discuss the project's costs and funding, including the potential impact of schedule-related issues on the project's costs. Our observations today are based on our review of schedules and financial reports for the CVC project and related records maintained by AOC and its construction management contractor, Gilbane Building Company; our observations on the progress of work at the CVC construction site; and our discussions with CVC project staff, including AOC, its construction management contractor, and representatives of an AOC schedule consultant, McDonough Bolyard Peck (MBP). We did not perform an audit; rather we performed our work to assist Congress in conducting its oversight activities.

In summary, AOC's sequence 2 contractor, Manhattan Construction Company, has met 3 of 11 significant milestones scheduled for completion by today's hearing. The sequence 2 contractor missed the other 8 milestones for several reasons, such as unforeseen site conditions and a design problem. AOC does not expect these delays to affect the CVC project's scheduled September 2006 completion date because AOC believes that the contractor can recover the lost time. Furthermore, certain utility tunnel work is scheduled for completion about 5 months later than previously reported, but AOC does not expect this delay to postpone the project's completion date because AOC plans to use temporary equipment that will allow the project to move forward but will also increase its costs. However, largely because of past problems and risks and uncertainties that face the project, we continue to believe that the project is more likely to be completed in the December 2006 to March 2007 time frame than in September 2006, as shown in AOC's schedule. AOC and its construction management contractor have continued their efforts to address two of the areas we identified during Congress's May 17 CVC hearing as requiring priority attention--having a realistic, acceptable schedule and aggressively monitoring and managing adherence to the schedule. But AOC has not yet developed risk mitigation plans or, as the Subcommittee requested, prepared a master schedule that integrates the major steps needed to complete construction with the steps needed to prepare for operations. Until recently, AOC did not have funding to continue contractual support it had been receiving to help plan and prepare for CVC operations. We continue to believe that these areas require AOC's priority attention and that the project's estimated cost at completion will be between $522 million and $559 million, and that, as we indicated during the May 17 hearing, AOC will likely need as much as $37 million more than it has requested to cover risks and uncertainties to complete the project. We believe that most of these additional funds will be needed in fiscal years 2006 and 2007, although exactly how much will be needed at any one time is not clear. We are recommending that this fall AOC update its estimate of the cost to complete the project.

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